Parents’ voices would make this school choice debate even better

Civility and respect are core values we promote at redefinED, so we were pleased to read the well-mannered exchange between Jason Bedrick and Kevin Welner about the pros and cons of tax credit scholarships. Readers who missed their back and forth can get caught up beginning here, and continuing here, here, herehere and here.

Unfortunately, their exchange was motivated by a column by Washington Post blogger Valerie Strauss, which was a collection of false assertions and hyperbolic rhetoric. After Bedrick rebutted Strauss’ attacks, she had the good sense to step back and let Professor Welner take over. 

Welner has chosen to build his career around opposing tax credit scholarships, and, while some of his previous writings have also suffered from over generalizations and unsubstantiated assertions, his rhetoric has become more measured in recent months, as my colleague Jon East noted last December

I can’t add much to Bedrick’s outstanding rebuttals, but I do wish the parents’ voices could be included in these exchanges. I spend hours every week talking with parents, grandparents, and foster parents about the extraordinary challenges they face raising low-income children. For them the tax credit scholarships are not about ideology or politics; they’re about another tool they can use to keep their children alive, out of jail and on the path to becoming a successful adult.

I suspect Welner would be a lot slower to condemn these scholarships if he spent more time talking to the parents and children who are using them.

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BY Doug Tuthill

A lifelong educator and former teacher union president, Tuthill has been president of Step Up For Students since August 2008.